Archive for the ‘Women’ Category

Fears of social unrest ahead as India’s rise creates new underclass

January 5, 2008

Double-edged boom hits India’s poor

Fears of social unrest ahead as country’s rise creates new underclass
From Raymond Thibodeaux in New Delhi

EVEN AMID the chaotic swarm of Delhi’s traffic, with horns blaring and trucks and buses rumbling past, Omprekash Takur’s place of business remains a bastion of stillness and calm. Which is a good thing, as Takur’s speciality is open-razor shaves.

Takur has spent nearly 10 years at this barber shop, or what passes for a barber shop: a small stretch of pavement with a rusted chair, a plastic table for his shaving kit, two pairs of scissors, a comb and a square mirror hanging from a nail driven into the trunk of a tamarind tree, its leaves darkened by soot and dust kicked up by the traffic.

“My father taught me to do this when I was seven and I’ve been doing it ever since. My teachers would beat me for skipping classes, but I enjoyed making money from cutting hair,” said the slight, dark-skinned Takur, now 27, as he loaded a fresh blade into the razor.
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India’s city streets are filled with people like Takur – barbers, ear cleaners, cobblers and tailors, a rag-tag platoon of kerbside personal assistants for the country’s urban masses. But for many of them, India’s economic rise has chipped away at their client base as a growing number of Indians are better able to afford more upmarket versions of their services at newly sprouted shopping malls.

The huge wealth being generated by India’s booming economy has been slow to trickle down to the street level, where most of the country’s 400 million workers ply their trades. Typically, they are poorly educated and semi-skilled, and toil away in a shadowy, informal economy that falls under the radar of most government controls and protections.

As India’s rises, the gap between rich and poor appears to be widening. With a 6% inflation rate, the new India seems to be backfiring on the poor, who are hardest hit by increases in the cost of basic necessities such as food and shelter. This has stoked fears of a looming social turmoil in this country of 1.1 billion people, as a growing and increasingly restive underclass is left to fend for itself as India’s economic tide turns.

“These are our electricians, our plumbers, our housemaids and our drivers. They are the backbone of our economic success, and yet they live in slums,” said Ranjana Kumari, director for the Centre of Social Research in New Delhi, a non-governmental agency focused on India’s workplace.

“There is a serious flaw in the government policies that guide our economy. There needs to be more government initiative to care for these workers and give them a bigger share of the wealth.”

So far, India’s pro-growth government has been reluctant to burden businesses with costly regulations that would do just that. And many Indian companies have been unwilling to absorb them as formal employees, who would then be entitled to the few perks already required by law: health benefits, pension plans, holidays and severance pay.

As a result, about 93% of India’s workforce remains informal and unorganised.

“Ideally, we want to formalise our entire workforce, give them pensions and health benefits and so on, but that’s going to take a long time,” said Pronab Sen, the Indian government’s chief statistician. Part of the hold-up is that more and more rural Indians are abandoning their farms and moving to urban areas to seek better jobs as rickshaw drivers, street sweepers and barbers. These workers are hard to keep track of and much harder to organise.

“The informal sector is an extremely important transition between the rural areas and the cities. It allows the people to learn different trades that are more useful and better-paying,” Sen said.

In the shade of the tamarind tree, Takur dipped his shaving brush in hot water and lathered up another scruffy face, his third in the space of an hour. He said he usually rakes in at least £3 a day, three times the daily wage of most Indians. It’s enough to support his wife and his three sons, aged six, four and two.

Asked how India’s boom had benefited him, he said: “It hasn’t.” But a client, a rickshaw taxi driver waiting his turn in the barber’s chair, pointed out that Takur had doubled his prices since last year.

“Yes, that’s true, but that is not really a benefit to me,” said Takur, using his palm to wipe shaving cream off the razor. “My supplies are costing more, so I must pass that on to my customer.”

Sunday Herald

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Behind the ‘hindu growth rate’ of Gujarat, ‘wombs for rent’

January 5, 2008

ANAND: Every night in this quiet western Indian city, 15 pregnant women prepare for sleep in the spacious house they share, ascending the stairs in a procession of ballooned bellies, to bedrooms that become a landscape of soft hills.

A team of maids, cooks and doctors looks after the women, whose pregnancies would be unusual anywhere else but are common here. The young mothers of Anand, a place famous for its milk, are pregnant with the children of infertile couples from around the world.

The small clinic at Kaival Hospital matches infertile couples with local women, cares for the women during pregnancy and delivery, and counsels them afterward. Anand’s surrogate mothers, pioneers in the growing field of outsourced pregnancies, have given birth to roughly 40 babies.

More than 50 women in this city are now pregnant with the children of couples from the United States, Taiwan, Britain and beyond. The women earn more than many would make in 15 years. But the program raises a host of uncomfortable questions that touch on morals and modern science, exploitation and globalization, and that most natural of desires: to have a family.

Dr. Nayna Patel, the woman behind Anand’s baby boom, defends her work as meaningful for everyone involved.

“There is this one woman who desperately needs a baby and cannot have her own child without the help of a surrogate. And at the other end there is this woman who badly wants to help her (own) family,” Patel said. “If this female wants to help the other one … why not allow that? … It’s not for any bad cause. They’re helping one another to have a new life in this world.”

Experts say commercial surrogacy _ or what has been called “wombs for rent” _ is growing in India. While no reliable numbers track such pregnancies nationwide, doctors work with surrogates in virtually every major city. The women are impregnated in-vitro with the egg and sperm of couples unable to conceive on their own.

Commercial surrogacy has been legal in India since 2002, as it is in many other countries, including the United States. But India is the leader in making it a viable industry rather than a rare fertility treatment. Experts say it could take off for the same reasons outsourcing in other industries has been successful: a wide labor pool working for relatively low rates.

Critics say the couples are exploiting poor women in India _ a country with an alarmingly high maternal death rate _ by hiring them at a cut-rate cost to undergo the hardship, pain and risks of labor.

“It raises the factor of baby farms in developing countries,” said Dr. John Lantos of the Center for Practical Bioethics in Kansas City, Missouri. “It comes down to questions of voluntariness and risk.”

Patel’s surrogates are aware of the risks because they’ve watched others go through them. Many of the mothers know one another, or are even related. Three sisters have all borne strangers’ children, and their sister-in-law is pregnant with a second surrogate baby. Nearly half the babies have been born to foreign couples while the rest have gone to Indians.

Ritu Sodhi, a furniture importer from Los Angeles who was born in India, spent US$200,000 (euro138,910) trying to get pregnant through in-vitro fertilization, and was considering spending another US$80,000 (euro55,563) to hire a surrogate mother in the United States.

“We were so desperate,” she said. “It was emotionally and financially exhausting.”

Then, on the Internet, Sodhi found Patel’s clinic. After spending about US$20,000 (euro13,890) _ more than many couples because it took the surrogate mother several cycles to conceive _ Sodhi and her husband are now back home with their 4-month-old baby, Neel. They plan to return to Anand for a second child.

“Even if it cost $1 million (euro690,000), the joy that they had delivered to me is so much more than any money that I have given them,” said Sodhi. “They’re godsends to deliver something so special.”

Patel’s center is believed to be unique in offering one-stop service. Other clinics may request that the couple bring in their own surrogate, often a family member or friend, and some place classified ads. But in Anand the couple just provides the egg and sperm and the clinic does the rest, drawing from a waiting list of tested and ready surrogates.

Young women are flocking to the clinic to sign up for the list. Suman Dodia, a pregnant, baby-faced 26-year-old, said she will buy a house with the US$4,500 (euro3,125) she receives from the British couple whose child she’s carrying. It would have taken her 15 years to earn that on her maid’s monthly salary of US$25 (euro17).

Dodia’s own three children were delivered at home and she said she never visited a doctor during those pregnancies.

“It’s very different with medicine,” Dodia said, resting her hands on her hugely pregnant belly. “I’m being more careful now than I was with my own pregnancy.”

Patel said she carefully chooses which couples to help and which women to hire as surrogates. She only accepts couples with serious fertility issues, like survivors of uterine cancer. The surrogate mothers have to be between 18 and 45, have at least one child of their own, and be in good medical shape.

Like some fertility reality show, a rotating cast of surrogate mothers live together in a home rented by the clinic and overseen by a former surrogate mother. They receive their children and husbands as visitors during the day, when they’re not busy with English or computer classes.

“They feel like my family,” said Rubina Mandul, 32, the surrogate house’s den mother. “The first 10 days are hard, but then they don’t want to go home.”

Mandul, who has two sons of her own, gave birth to a child for an American couple in February. She said she misses the baby, but she stays in touch with the parents over the Internet. A photo of the American couple with the child hangs over the sofa.

“They need a baby more than me,” she said. The surrogate mothers and the parents sign a contract that promises the couple will cover all medical expenses in addition to the woman’s payment, and the surrogate mother will hand over the baby after birth. The couples fly to Anand for the in-vitro fertilization and again for the birth. Most couples end up paying the clinic less than US$10,000 (euro6,945) for the entire procedure, including fertilization, the fee to the mother and medical expenses.

Counseling is a major part of the process and Patel tells the women to think of the pregnancy as “someone’s child comes to stay at your place for nine months.”

Kailas Gheewala, 25, said she doesn’t think of the pregnancy as her own.

“The fetus is theirs, so I’m not sad to give it back,” said Gheewala, who plans to save the US$6,250 (euro4,340) she’s earning for her two daughters’ education. “The child will go to the U.S. and lead a better life and I’ll be happy.”

Patel said none of the surrogate mothers has had especially difficult births or serious medical problems, but risks are inescapable.

“We have to be very careful,” she said. “We overdo all the health investigations. We do not take any chances.”

Health experts expect to see more Indian commercial surrogacy programs in coming years. Dr. Indira Hinduja, a prominent fertility specialist who was behind India’s first test-tube baby two decades ago, receives several surrogacy inquiries a month from couples overseas.

“People are accepting it,” said Hinduja. “Earlier they used to be ashamed but now they are becoming more broadminded.”

But if commercial surrogacy keeps growing, some fear it could change from a medical necessity for infertile women to a convenience for the rich.

“You can picture the wealthy couples of the West deciding that pregnancy is just not worth the trouble anymore and the whole industry will be farmed out,” said Lantos.

Or, Lantos said, competition among clinics could lead to compromised safety measures and “the clinic across the street offers it for 20 percent less and one in Bangladesh undercuts that and pretty soon conditions get bad.”

The industry is not regulated by the government. Health officials have issued nonbinding ethical guidelines and called for legislation to protect the surrogates and the children.

For now, the surrogate mothers in Anand seem as pleased with the arrangement as the new parents.

“I know this isn’t mine,” said Jagrudi Sharma, 34, pointing to her belly. “But I’m giving happiness to another couple. And it’s great for me.”

Economic Times

80,000 women die during abortions every year in India

December 20, 2007

BANGALORE: Around 11 million abortions are carried out in India every year and nearly 80,000 women die during the process, according to an expert.

A majority of abortions are performed by untrained hands and studies suggest that nearly 80,000 women die due to unsafe abortions, Dr Hema Divakar, Chairperson, Federation of Obsterics and Gynecological Societies of India (FOGSI), Perinatology Committee RPT Perinatology Committee.

Stressing the need to promote awareness about emergency contraception methods, she said research shows that 78 per cent of pregnancies in India were unplanned, of which 25 per cent are unwanted, leading to approximately 11 million abortions.

“The level of emergency contraception is abysmally low in India,” she told reporters on Wednesday and added that only one out of 100 women were aware of it.

Recent advertisements had fuelled some awareness, but the sale of these contraceptives was yet to pick up, she said.

An Emergency Contraceptive (EC) can prevent pregnancy by over 80 per cent if taken within 72 hours of an intercourse.

However, these pills are to be taken only in an emergency and not as a regular form of contraception, she added.

Clearing misconceptions associated with EC, she it was not an abortion pill and cannot abort a foetus once pregnancy is established.

EC acts as an interceptive agent that prevents ovulation, fertilization or implantation depending on the phase of menstrual cycle, Divakar added.

Proper and timely use of EC pills can bring down the spiralling unsafe abortions, she said.

Times of India 20 Dec 2007, 1322 hrs IST,PTI

Hindu boy sells girl friend for Rs 40k

December 19, 2007

Delhi lover sells woman for Rs 40K

NEW DELHI: In a shocking incident, the ‘lover’ of a 21-year-old woman sold her to a couple from Haryana for Rs 40,000. The victim, who was rescued by the Delhi Police crime branch from Jind on Monday, was raped repeatedly by three men before being forced into prostitution.

The woman, who is from Jharkhand, had come to Delhi a few weeks ago to meet her pregnant sister. She was staying in the house of her brother-in-law at Shahdara in east Delhi.

The two men who have been arrested for abducting and selling her were identified as Jai Shankar, who lives in Adarsh Nagar in north Delhi, and Pervez, from Sultanpuri in west Delhi. Both are unemployed. According to the police, Shankar met the woman in Shahdara and they “fell in love”. On December 12, Shankar took her to Pervez’s house saying he wanted to marry her in a temple.

The woman told the police that at Pervez’s house, they were approached by a man named Jagbir and his wife Rajbala. These two have also been arrested. “The couple has admitted they paid Rs 40,000 to Jai Shankar and Pervez for the woman. Jagbir and Rajbala are pimps who forced women into prostitution. The two forcibly took her to Jind and kept her illegally confined there,” said a senior police officer.

19 Dec 2007, 0420 hrs IST,TNN

Major prostitution racket busted in Nepal’s border town

December 17, 2007

KATHMANDU: The authorities in Nepal have busted a major prostitution racket in Rupandehi district’s Butwal town, close to the Indian border.

The Nepal Police arrested at least 22 people, including girls, from different hotels of Butwal Municipality in Rupandehi district, close to the Indian border state of Uttar Pradesh.

They were arrested by the authorities in raid at the three hotels and a restaurant in Butwal after receiving a tip-off, according to the police.

The arrested youths would face a case of public offence, the police said.

Prostitution is considered illegal in Nepal and the Himalayan nation does not have a red light area.

The police said they have intensified raids in the district to control the illegal activity.

Concerned over the deteriorating law and order situation in the country’s Terai plains bordering India, the government has unveiled new security measures for Southern Nepal.

The porous Indo-Nepal border has often facilitated criminal activities, including prostitution and smuggling.

In recent months, the security forces of the two countries have increased vigil to check crimes, including abduction, extortion and other forms of illegal activities in the Terai region.

16 Dec 2007, ,PTI

An open letter to Malaysian Indians

December 6, 2007

A family mourning death of a child on the street in Triplicane area in Chennai. The family is homeless, the live on the sidewalk. There were heavy rains for several days, it was relatively cold, the child got serious fever and died soon © Maciej Dakowicz www.flickr.comTo begin with, this picture is not from Malaysia. It is from Chennai, the capital city of southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. According to flickr, this photo is part of their most interesting 50 sets. It says a lot about the pain, and struggle of Dalit community in India, above all in Tamil Nadu.

Died the night before: A family mourning death of a child on the street in Triplicane area in Chennai. The family is homeless, the live on the sidewalk. There were heavy rains for several days, it was relatively cold, the child got serious fever and died soon. You can see it @ flickr.com © Maciej Dakowicz.

I stand against any discrimination of any human being in any parts of the world. But when it comes to HINDRAF outrage in Malaysia there are some questions one should ask to Hindu Rights Action Force officials. As an Indian, I believe ethnic Indians in Malaysia; still enjoy more rights than Indian citizens who is living in their own country. Since the living standards of Malaysia are far higher than India, I also agree that Hindus in Malaysia need a better deal. As a community with migrant history, majority of Malaysian Indians are Hindus while it also include a minuscule of Muslim, Christian and Sikh presence. The so called “Indian” heritage in Malaysia cannot be limited with Hindu minority in Malaysia.

Unlike Malaysia, discrimination against Indian citizens in India has a multitude of factors. One is the religion and the other is caste factor.

In India, religious discrimination is worst against Muslims followed by Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, and Jainism. The traces of Hindu caste system can be visible among India’s minority communities too. Due to Hindutva’s burgeoning alliance with Zionism, Jews are not attacked or either they are helped to migrate to their dreamland, Israel. Hindutva patriots will never question patriotism of Indian Jews. In 2005, Business Week reported that India became Israel’s largest importer of weapons, accounting for about half of the $3.6 billion worth of weapons exported by the Jewish state.

But in terms of Caste discrimination, it totally alienate lower caste Hindus, Dalits and Tribal or aborigines, who together contribute the largest segment of Hindu religion. Caste system is a part of a Hindu belief that people inherit their stations in life based on the sins and good deeds of past lives.

For the past 60 years the higher caste Hindu elite, effectively ruling this nation under the false cover of democratically elected government. Since majority of Indians are illiterate, it is easy to manipulate their votes offering food kits, liquor, subsidies, and even free Television!

Crime-politics nexus also influences the democracy in India. Most of the ministers in elected democratic governments are from criminal background. They are entering into the political arena, influencing the decision-making at the highest level in their own favor and thereby increasing corruption through patron-client relationship. The reason for this pervasive political corruption, in spite of six decades of democracy, is because we, in India, do not elect representatives but patrons. The rich and the avaricious as well as the poor and the stricken, vote on this principle. Lack of transparency within the bureaucracy is also another important factor responsible for promoting public corruption.

Any attempts from the state to introduce an affirmative action plan to help the down trodden of India, primarily defeated by upper caste student agitations in the campus. In a country where more than 92 % children cannot progress beyond secondary school, a support base for the backward communities in campus is beyond imagination. Furthermore, Indian judiciary is loaded with upper caste judges and they will spoils any affirmative action of the state by restricting reservation quota.

On the other hand, India contributed about $14.5 billion to the US economy through the expenditure on tuition and living expenses by sending the students to US. As a country, it dominated with one in seven (14.4 percent) of the total of 582,984 international students. [The Open Doors 2007, US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Report] In the same period, Australia earned about 500 million Australian dollars from the export of educational services to India. Please note that Government of India’s spending on education is lesser than one-fifth of its defense budget!

The dominant group of Hindu nationalists come from the three upper castes ( Brahmins, Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas ) that constitute only 10 per cent of the total Indian population. But, they claim perhaps 80 % of the jobs in the new economy, in sectors such as software, biotechnology, and hotel management. Thus, Hindutva storm troopers promote enormous blogs, web campaigns and forums to control the media to implement their own political will. India’s fake super power status is also something created by this elite group of Hindu caste who don’t want to care the alienated Hindu classes and minorities.

Let us begin with the educational statistics from Tamil Nadu State itself.

Out of 427 faculties available in Chennai IITs (Tamil Nadu) 400 are from Brahmin caste and only 4 of them are Dalit. Every year, Government of India spend a whopping amount of $ 2000 million for the expenses of IITs (Bombay, Delhi, Gawhati, Kanpur, Kharaghpur, and Madras). But, Indian IITs function as a free educational institute dedicated to the upper class Hindus. Even though IITs are proclaimed as institutions with national importance, 96% of the IIT graduates usually migrate to west or find a job with a multinational corporate company.

According to the Indian census of 2001, the total population was 1.028 billion. Hindus numbered 827 million or 80.5 %. About 25 per cent (24 million) of those Hindus are belonging to Scheduled Castes and Tribes. About 40 per cent (400 million) are “Other Backward Castes”.Even though, 15 per cent are belonging to Hindu upper castes, they inherited civil service, economy and active politics. And thus the caste system virtually leaves lower caste Hindus in India to an oppressed minority.

Udit Raj, the prominent Dalit intellectual from India, recalls caste issues in Malaysia in his book,

“Caste Hindus can give up anything, including their life, but caste attitude. In 1998, when I was invited to attend the first Dalit International Convention at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, it was unbelievable at first sight, but became a reality, when I attended. About 150 years back, British took Indians to Malaysia as labourers and assistants and eventually Indians made their homes there. More than one million Hindus are living there, but are still maintaining their caste identity. Dalits living in Malaysia have lots of grievances, which is not a contribution of the concerned soil, but virus went with them. So far, no medicine has been manufactured that can kill the caste virus” Dalit & Religious Freedom, 2005“, chapter 38.

Considering the media manipulation techniques, time line and nature of the Hindu outrage in Malaysia, there are many reasons to believe that HINDRAF and Uthay Kumar is closely associated with RSS, a Hindu Taliban who already spoiled India’s social fabric with fascist propaganda and communal riots. Watch utube.pngHindutva role in Communal Riots

Mr. P. Waytha Moorthy, the Chairman of Hindu Right Action Force, in fact is the Malaysian representative of global ‘Hindutva’ brother hood called Vishva Hindu Parishat. He also work with Hindu charity institutions like Hindu America Foundation and UK based SEWA International , both of them are in control of their parent demon, RSS . Both of these charity organizations were involved in funding anti minority riots in India. Hiring such a hate monger and ardent admirer of Aryan Hindu supremacy to solve issues of Malaysian Tamils will back fire soon. Tamil values are much closer to Dravidian culture and it will never tolerate the Aryan ideas of racial purity and dictatorship of Brahmins.

Instead, tamil Hindus should find ways for peaceful dialogue with Malay organizations and concentrate more of their energy for caste and poverty eradication. The thoughts of Thanthai Periyar E.V. Ramaswamy should be their guide light, than the false propaganda war initiated by Hindutva and its militant mafia gang, RSS.

Do you know why? RSS is the Hindu-supremacist organization that has fueled a rise in anti-Dalit, anti-Muslim, anti-Christian and anti-Sikh violence. The former ruling party, the BJP is the political arm of the RSS and helped fascism to spread across civil, judiciary, defence and educational streams of the society. According to National Crime Records Bureau, there was 1822602 riots in 2005 alone. [ Incidence Of Cognizable Crimes (IPC) Under Different Crime Heads, concluded, Page 2] NCRB website

Under India’s notorious caste system, upper caste Hindus inherited key positions and controls all the governmental branches. Violence against victims largely goes unpunished due to the support of this upper caste crooks.

The man, who killed Mahatma Gandhi in January 1948 for seeking conciliation with Minorities Nathuram Vinayak Godse, was a Brahmin and at one time belonged to the RSS. That’s part of the Sangh’s legacy. And it has not only spawned the VHP, but numerous other radical organizations backing the RSS, notably the Shiv Sena (Shiva’s Army) party of Bal Thackeray, a self-declared Hitler fan.”

Since Indian community issues in Malaysia is considered as a ‘Minority vs majority‘ issue, let us also compare the statistics of Indian Muslims, in India it self. Unlike Malaysian Hindus, Indian Muslims have not arrived from outside.

Recently, Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee report admitted that 138 Million Muslims across India are severely under-represented in government employment, including Public Sector Units. Ironically, West Bengal, a communist ruled state reported 0 (zero) percent of Muslims in higher positions in its PSUs! It has found that the share of Muslims in government jobs and in the lower judiciary in any state simply does not come anywhere close to their population share. The only place where Muslims can claim a share in proportion to their population is in prison! (Muslims convicts in India is 19.1%, while the number of under trials is 22.5%, which exceed their population ratio) . A note sent on January 9 by the army to the defence ministry in 2004 says that only 29,093 Muslims among a total of 1.1 million personnel — a ratio of 2.6 %, which compares poorly with the Muslims’ 13 % share in the Indian population. Officially, Indian Army don’t allow head count based on religion.

A Muslim child attends school for three years and four months, compared to the national average of four years. Less than two percent of the students at the elite Indian Institutes of Technology comprise of the Muslim community.

Please note that, Malaysian Indians are not the original inhabitants of the country; but Indian Muslims are from the same racial and ethnic groups as their compatriots. And still they face discrimination in the world’s largest democracy called India. (Ref. Indian Express, The Missing Muslims)

81 % Malaysia’s ethnic Indians are mostly from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, an impoverished land lagging with illiteracy and feudalism fueled by Delhi’s north favored rule. The traditional Hindu caste system compelled caste minorities including Dalits to move even to Sri Lanka. But unfortunately, this Tamils are currently in extreme war with their own hosts, Sinhalese!

Does Tamil community in Malaysia want to do the same rebellion to their own host, the Malays?

The Tribune News paper has a story about Malaysia’s care to India. “In 1971, Malaysia sent a team to enquire about the welfare of its pensioners residing in Punjab. Further, pensions paid in that country are free of income tax,” The Tribune, February 20, 2003, Chandigarh, India.

Do HINDRAF want to trouble the interests of Malaysian Indians by misleading Tamil Hindu community against such generous government like of Malaysia? Can we expect proper pension from India Government?

The Human Development Report for 2007-08 released by the UNDP ranked India 128 out of 177 countries, working it out through measures of life expectancy, education and income. Malaysia ranked 63 and listed at under High Human Development category. The report found that India’s GDP per capita (purchasing power parity) is $3,452, far below Malaysia’s $10,882. Read the statistics from UNDP website

Indian workers form the third largest foreign work force in Malaysia, with 140,000 of them seeking out a living there. Most of these migrant workers are the relatives of ethnic Indians who comprise 7% of Malaysia’s population of around 24 million.

Every year, more than 1 million Indian citizens are forced to leave their country in search of better life.

Indians form about half of the 2.6 million expatriate workers in the United Arab Emirates’ private sector which includes Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and Christians. In 2006, India received the highest amount of remittance globally from migrants, 27 $Billion. The large part of it came from the Gulf expatriate workforce.

Further, Indian government expects overseas Indians to pump in about US$500 billion into the FOREX reserves of the country in the next 10 years, making them the single largest source of foreign receipts. Do Indian Government want to hurt their own economy by interfering in Malaysian affairs?

Migrated Hindus from India constitutes 1 million or 0.4 per cent of US population now. With the approval of U.S authorities, they built around 1,000 Hindu temples throughout the US. The generosity of the American administration did n’t stop Hindutva idiots from bashing Christian around the globe.

In Tamil Nadu, last year, 250 temples were brought down to earth following High Court orders in Madurai. The reason was those temples were built on public property. There were no protests. Tamil Hindus there thought such a drive was carried out in the interest of people at large.

Like India, thousands of smaller Hindu temples, often originating in the placement of a deity under a tree, should have mushroomed across Malaysian rubber plantations and the rural countryside. As the Hindu community grew, some of them may be converted to larger structures and government should have brought down in public interest. But why so much huge and cry in Malaysia alone?

By falsely claiming of “Ethnic cleansing against Hindus in Malaysia”, HINDRAF officials are working against the interests of India’s peaceful migrant community around the world. While Dalits, Lower castes, Sikhs, Chrisitans and Muslims are the daily victims of Hindutva’s communal riots in India, Tamil Hindus in Malaysia haven’t faced any single riots orchestrated by Malay Muslims.

Remember that India, as a country cannot offer you food or job. Tamil politicians are engaged in lip service. Leaders with Dravidian origin have limited say in India’s central government which is ruled by majority north Indian Aryans. They consider TamilNadu as the bastion of opposing imposition of north Indian rule and its Hindi language in its territories. South Indians mostly consider English as their national language than Hindi. This north and south division has a long history in India and will continue to go on for ages, as long as people in India continue to remain emotionally myopic, narrow minded and accepting of propaganda and social myths. Govt. of Tamil Nadu website has something to say about Politics of Dravidian thoughts.

Hindutva vs Tamil culture

Before the invasion of Aryans, Tamils have practiced a dual spirituality called Saivism and Thirumalism . But Brahmins enslaved Tamils with cultural and spiritual corruption.

The Hindu nationalist movement headed by Brahmin chiefs grew up in the 1920s with the establishment of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS ) The RSS gradually established a network of local branches that met daily for training sessions on martial arts. With ideological sermons making Indian identity synonymous with Brahmin culture it floated new motto even to the south, “Hindu, Hindi, Hindustan” (one people, one language, one country).

In 1965, after a 15 year gap, Hindi was declared as the solitary national language of India. This led to violent protests in Tamil Nadu and so many deaths of tamilians.

In 1996, Inspired by Hindu myths, a Marathi Hindu mafia leader called Bal Thackeray floated ‘Shiv Sena‘ a political party to drive out south Indians from the industrial city of Bombay. Shiv Sena means Army of Shiva, (referring to Hindu King, Shivaji) succeeded in its aim with the help of Hindu militants who unleashed several communal riots in the city.

In 1991, a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber killed India’s Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi ( A north Indian brahmin with aryan heritage) at an election rally outside Chennai. Those scars against Tamils are still run deep in north India, especially in a government dominated by Gandhi’s Italian-born widow Sonia.

When it comes to recording Indian history, the north of the country often ignores or overlooks events in the south. Tamils consider Vellore revolt as the first organized revolt against British in India, while Delhi officially consider it started with Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. Unlike north Indian Hindus, Tamils consider Lord Rama as the villain and Ravana as the hero. In such many ways, Tamil history and politics are in contradiction with India’s official version, which is in fact authored and promoted by Aryan north. The division within India’s caste maniacs is so deep and it cannot overcome to help anyone outside their circle.

Do the ethnic Indians in Malaysia want to come back to India? I bet none of them will come back to this sinking ship called, India. Instead of asking for more rights they should come out of their caste system and narrowness. Let them learn to respect their hosts, the Malaysian people who provided better opportunities than their caste maniac“Mother India”. Only such an attitude and kindness will bring them prosperity. Let them not forget the millions of impoverished Indian citizens living in their own country. Read more about Our Shining India at here

What make people move to out of India? Read the Real Indian facts

What if you come to Tamil Nadu and join with 1,60,000 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees ? Read this Report from Asian Centre of Human Rights

India drops down 2 places in HDI, ranks 128th

November 28, 2007

India growing? It’s not showing, Country unable to break out of class of laggards in UN assessment

The world’s second highest economic growth rate has not yet helped India hoist itself away from its customary position in the global development report card.

The Human Development Report for 2007-08 released by the UNDP today ranked India 128 out of 177 countries, working it out through measures of life expectancy, education and income.

India’s human development index (HDI) of 0.619 puts it just below Equatorial Guinea (0.642) and Solomon Islands (0.602). India’s life expectancy of 63.7 years is sandwiched between Comoros (64.1) and Mauritania (63.2), while Malawi and Rwanda have higher adult literacy than India.

The report found that India’s GDP per capita (purchasing power parity) is $3,452, far below China’s $6,757.

Iceland is at the top with Norway, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, France, the US, the UK, Israel, and Singapore among the top 25 nations in the development chart.

India was ranked 126 by the HDR 2006, a rung higher than the previous year’s 127. This year, it continues to be dubbed a country at medium level of human development.

An economist said he was not surprised that the country’s impressive economic growth rate — only China’s growth surpasses India’s 9 per cent — was not reflected in the human development report.

“Our growth has been lopsided, and has not yet percolated to the masses,” Shyama Prasad Gupta, an economist and a former member of the Planning Commission, said,

India’s richest 20 per cent account for about 31 per cent of the share of income or expenditure, while the poorest 20 per cent account for around 8 per cent, the report said.

“We have two countries in one,” said Abhay Shukla, senior programme coordinator with Sathi-Cehat, a non-government organisation engaged in health and development issues.

The report has ranked India 62 among 108 developing countries in its human poverty index which measures severe deprivation in health in people who are not expected to survive age 40.

“We’re witnessing something called development polarisation. About 20 per cent of the population is showing low mortality and low fertility, key features associated with development, but in the rest of the population we don’t see this change in any significant way,” Shukla said.

The UNDP report suggests that India’s commitment to education measured through public spending dropped from 12 per cent of total government expenditure in 1991 to 10 per cent in 2005.

India’s public spending on health is only 0.9 per cent of its GDP, a fraction of 8.3 per cent in Iceland, 6.9 per cent in the US, 7 per cent in the UK, and lower than China’s 1.8 per cent.

Full report is here http://hdr.undp.org/en/statistics/

55 percent women anaemic, 40 percent kids underweight: NFHSreport

October 11, 2007

More than half the women in India  are anaemic and one in three child is underweight.

‘Anaemia is disturbingly common among adults. 55 percent of women in India are anaemic and 43 percent of kids below the age of three are underweight,’ reveals the final report of the National Family Health Survey – III (NFHS-3), released Thursday.

‘Anaemia among pregnant women during that period has also increased. Even though men are much less likely than women to be anaemic, anaemia levels in men are at around 24 percent,’ the NFHS survey revealed.

The findings showed that malnutrition continues to be a significant health problem for children and adults in India.

‘There has been very marginal change in the percentage of children who are underweight. From 43 percent underweight children in 1998-99 to 40 percent in 2006.’

NFHS-3 also found high prevalence of anaemia – 70 percent in children aged 6-59 months. Anaemia is primarily linked to poor nutrition.

‘Women and men suffer a dual burden of over nutrition and under nutrition. More than one third of women are too thin, while 13 percent are overweight.

‘One-third of men are too thin, and 9 percent are overweight or obese. The states with the largest percentage of overweight women and men are in Punjab, Kerala, and Delhi, especially among the more educated,’ the survey pointed out.

Amnesty International’ Full Report on India 2007

May 27, 2007

Amnesty International Press Release, May 25, 2007,

Perpetrators of past human rights violations continued to enjoy impunity. Concerns grew over protection of economic, social and cultural rights of already marginalized communities. Human rights violations were reported in several states where security legislation was used to facilitate arbitrary detention and torture. A new anti-terror law, in place of the repealed Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), was being considered in the aftermath of multiple bombings in Mumbai and elsewhere. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), long criticized for widespread abuses in the north-east, was not repealed. Justice and rehabilitation continued to evade most victims of the 2002 Gujarat communal violence.
Human rights legislation was amended undermining the powers of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). New laws to prevent violence against women and guarantee rural employment and right to information had not been fully implemented by the end of the year. Socially and economically marginalized groups such as adivasis, dalits, marginal/landless farmers and the urban poor continued to face systemic discrimination and loss of resource base and livelihood because of development projects.

Background

An agreement reached with the USA in March gave India access to strategic nuclear material and equipment for civilian purposes, and signalled closer Indo-US ties.

Hundreds of people were killed in bomb attacks during the year, including 21 in the north Indian city of Varanasi in March, more than 200 in multiple bombings in Mumbai in July, and 37 in Malegaon, Maharashtra state, in September. Concern about such attacks continued to dominate peace talks between India and Pakistan, which made little progress. The two countries agreed to set up an “anti-terror mechanism”, the details of which were not spelled out. Little progress was made in continuing dialogue over Kashmir, Nagaland and Assam.

Rising Maoist activity in some states added to security and human rights concerns. Several states, including Orissa and West Bengal, witnessed protests by people whose livelihoods were threatened by ongoing and proposed fast-tracked development projects. High suicide rates by debt-ridden farmers were recorded in some states, including Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.

Following renewed fighting in Sri Lanka, around 10,000 Tamil refugees fled the island by sea and arrived in Tamil Nadu, already home to over 100,000 refugees; about 50,000 of the refugees were reportedly in camps with inadequate facilities.

Security legislation

India continued to play no direct role in the US-led “war on terror”. However, demands for new anti-terror legislation in place of the repealed POTA grew after the bombings in Mumbai and Malegaon.

Following the bomb attacks, hundreds of people, mostly Muslims, were arbitrarily detained for short periods in Maharashtra. Sixteen people were charged under the state Control of Organised Crime Act. Local courts acquitted three of the 16 for lack of evidence.

Implementation of security legislation led to human rights violations in several states. An official panel report acknowledged widespread abuses of the AFSPA in the north-east but drew criticism for ignoring impunity issues and recommending use of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. Protests demanded repeal of the AFSPA.

At least 400 people remained in jail under the repealed POTA and several continued to face special trials whose proceedings fail to meet fair trial standards. The few convictions related to serious and high-profile cases. Official committees reviewed a majority of pending cases. However, the review process was questioned, with Gujarat and other states rejecting the committees’ key recommendation to drop POTA charges.

Jammu and Kashmir

Politically motivated violence slightly decreased, but torture, deaths in custody, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions continued to be reported. Some six deaths in custody, 38 enforced disappearances including several juveniles, and 22 extrajudicial killings were reported in 2006. Identity-based attacks by Islamist fighters continued.

• In May, 35 Hindus were killed in Doda and Udhampur districts. Government officials accused Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based armed Islamist group, of carrying out the killings to derail the peace process.

• In October, 17-year-old Muhammad Maqbool Dar of Pakherpora died in custody after he was questioned by the Rashtriya Rifles, an army counter-insurgency force. A magistrates’ inquiry and an internal army inquiry were ordered.

Impunity for human rights violations by state agents continued, although in a few cases criminal action was initiated after years of delay.

b In April, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) indicted five army officers for the extrajudicial killing of five villagers at Pathribal in March 2000. The officers were charged with fabricating evidence to support their claim that the men were foreign fighters killed in an “encounter” with security forces. The officers had earlier claimed that the men had killed 35 Sikhs at Chittisinghpora four days before the “encounter”. When local villagers protested in Brakpora that the five men were innocent villagers, the army opened fire, killing 10 protesters. An inquiry into the Pathribal incident stalled when it was found that DNA samples had been tampered with.

A new report indicated that some 10,000 people had been victims of enforced disappearance since 1989. The Association of the Parents of Disappeared People reported that the authorities failed to provide information to the families of the victims about their whereabouts. Outstanding concerns over the existing powers of the state Human Rights Commission were heightened in August when its chairperson resigned over the “non-serious” attitude of the state government towards human rights violations.

Impunity

Little progress was made in cases relating to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi which followed the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by two of her Sikh bodyguards and led to a massacre of nearly 3,000 Sikhs. In 2005 the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government promised to reopen the latest of many inquiries following the forced resignations of two leaders of the ruling Congress party, which heads the UPA. A judicial commission had concluded that there was credible evidence of involvement in the attacks against the two leaders who resigned.

In Punjab, a majority of police officers responsible for serious human rights violations during civil unrest between 1984 and 1994 continued to evade justice. In response to 2,097 reported cases of human rights violations during this period, the NHRC ordered Punjab state to provide compensation in 1,051 cases concerning people who died in police custody and appointed a commissioner to decide on compensation for 814 additional cases. CBI findings on these deaths in custody were not made public and the NHRC did not actively pursue with the judiciary the outstanding issues of impunity.

2002 Gujarat violence

Justice continued to evade most victims and survivors of the 2002 violence in Gujarat in which thousands of Muslims were attacked and more than 2,000 were killed. Rehabilitation continued to be slow. Members of the Muslim minority in Gujarat reportedly faced difficulties in accessing housing to rent and public resources. An official panel concluded that over 5,000 displaced families lived in “sub-human” conditions.

There continued to be few successful prosecutions relating to the violence. However, 1,594 cases closed by the state police were reopened on the orders of the Supreme Court and 41 police officials were being prosecuted for their alleged role.

New evidence on the riots emerged, in the form of details of mobile phone calls made between those leading the attacks and politicians belonging to the then ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a Hindu nationalist party. The judicial commission appointed in 2002 by Gujarat’s state government to investigate the attacks had not completed its work by the end of the year.

The Gujarat High Court set aside the Union government order appointing another commission to investigate the cause of the 2002 Godhra train fire which killed 59 Hindu pilgrims. The Court said there was no need for a second commission into the fire, which triggered attacks on Muslims and the subsequent violence.

Six key cases relating to killings and sexual assault of Muslim women in which complainants had sought transfer to courts outside Gujarat were still pending before the Supreme Court at the end of the year.

• In March, a Mumbai court sentenced nine people to life imprisonment and acquitted eight others after a retrial in the Best Bakery case, relating to the massacre during the 2002 violence of 14 people in Vadodara city. In 2003, a local court had acquitted all the accused, but the Supreme Court transferred the case to Mumbai. The Mumbai court later convicted Zahira Shaikh, and another female relative of the victims, of perjury after they “turned hostile” and retracted their statements, reportedly under pressure.

The UPA government’s draft bill to prevent communal violence was still pending before parliament. It had been introduced in 2005 following widespread criticism of the BJP-led government for failing to halt the Gujarat violence. Meanwhile, two other states ruled by the BJP – Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh – passed laws criminalizing religious conversion in certain circumstances, inviting criticism that they were acting against freedom of choice of religion.

Chhattisgarh

There was rising violence in the Dantewada area between Maoists and members of the anti-Maoist Salwa Judum, a militia widely believed to be sponsored by the Chhattisgarh state government. Civilians were routinely targeted by both sides and 45,000 adivasis were forced to live in special camps putting them at increased risk of violence. The Chhattisgarh authorities enacted legislation banning media coverage of certain human rights violations.

• On 28 February, suspected Maoists set off a landmine blowing up a truck; 26 people were killed and 30 injured.

Economic, social and cultural rights

Around 300 million people remained in poverty despite implementation of new legislation guaranteeing minimum annual employment for the rural poor. New legislation on the right to information, seen as a means to empower the poor, was not fully implemented; the Union government and state governments were reluctant to disclose crucial information about their decision-making processes.

Concerns grew over protection of economic, social and cultural rights of already-marginalized communities (including adivasis) amidst fears of unchecked exploitation of their resource base by the government and businesses. Several states witnessed periodic protests against acquisition of land and other resources for mining, irrigation, power and urban infrastructure purposes. Such developments were associated with forced evictions, harassment, arbitrary detentions, excessive police force and denial of access to justice.

• In January, 11 adivasis were killed when police fired into demonstrators protesting against the displacement that would be caused by the proposed Tata Steel project in Orissa.

• In April, police used excessive force against activists staging a protest fast in Delhi against displacement caused by the Narmada dam project; some protesters were detained.

• In July and September/October, activists protesting against the Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to acquire farmland for the Reliance gas project faced police harassment and detention.

Bhopal

Twenty-two years after the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) pesticide plant in Bhopal leaked toxic gases that devastated countless lives and the environment, survivors continued to struggle for adequate compensation, medical aid and rehabilitation. After a sustained campaign, including a survivors’ march from Bhopal to Delhi in April, the government agreed to clean up toxic waste, provide safe drinking water and set up a commission for rehabilitation of the victims. However, there was little progress on the ground on these initiatives by the end of 2006. In August, monsoon rains caused flooding in areas around the UCC plant, raising fears of contamination of groundwater. UCC and Dow Chemicals (which took over UCC in 2001) continued to reiterate that they had no responsibility for the gas leak or its consequences.

Violence against women

Legislation passed in 2005 to ensure comprehensive protection of women from all forms of domestic violence, including dowry deaths, sexual assault and acid attacks, came into effect in October. It was yet to be fully implemented by states.

Traditional preference for boys continued to lead to abortions of female foetuses, despite the ban on pre-natal sex determination since 1993. Only a few people were convicted of violating the ban, a fact criticized by the Supreme Court. Protests were staged in Punjab and Rajasthan over the slow pace of investigation into such cases.

Many of the abuses suffered by Muslim women in Gujarat in 2002 fell outside the definition of rape in national law. This continued to hamper victims’ quest for justice.

Two Supreme Court directives offered advances for victims of rape. The Court directed that lack of medical evidence would no longer be grounds for discounting testimony, and that the identity of victims should remain confidential in court judgments.

Death penalty

At least 40 people were sentenced to death in 2006; no executions took place. Comprehensive information on the number of people on death row was not available.

Anxiety rose over the fate of clemency petitions after the Supreme Court ruled that it could review executive decisions on such petitions. The ruling followed fierce debate triggered by the clemency petition submitted on behalf of Mohammed Afzal, who was sentenced to death on charges relating to the armed attack on India’s parliament in December 2001.

Other issues

There were concerns that amendments to the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, would weaken the operating framework of the NHRC which already had no mandate to investigate abuses by armed forces and complaints more than a year old. The amendments also allow for transfer of cases from the NHRC to state-level commissions which continued to be starved of resources; 11 of the 28 states had yet to set up such commissions and five of those operating had no chairpersons.


REPUBLIC OF INDIA

Head of state: APJ Abdul Kalam
Head of government: Manmohan Singh
Death penalty: retentionist
International Criminal Court: not ratified


AI country reports/visitsStatements

• India: Amnesty International condemns multiple bomb attacks in Mumbai (AI Index: ASA 20/017/2006)

• India: Continuing concern over the safety of civilians, including adivasis, caught in escalating conflict in Chhattisgarh (AI Index: ASA 20/018/2006)

• India: Concerns with Protection of Human Rights Act (AI Index: ASA 20/019/2006)

• India: Amnesty International condemns multiple bomb attacks in Malegaon, Maharashtra (AI Index: ASA 20/025/2006)

• India: Continued detention two years after the repeal of POTA (AI Index: ASA 20/026/2006)

• India: The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) Review Committee takes one step forward and two backwards (AI Index: ASA 20/031/2006)

Visits

AI’s Secretary General and other delegates visited India in February and met government officials and civil society organizations. AI delegates also met officials and activists in May, July and December.

http://thereport.amnesty.org/eng/Regions/Asia-Pacific/India

Betis As Bombs – Exploding The Borders Of Caste And Community

April 14, 2007

In every house there is a live bomb that can erupt at any time. Do you know who that is? Daughters are the honour of the family and the community, and to protect that is our Hindu duty and Hindu culture… . Come, and let’s unite to save bombs… I don’t believe in love marriage. We have to marry within our own community. These girls go to college, make friends with some lafanga [loafer], roam with them on their bikes, fall in love, and then run off and get married…We bring them back and convince them that they are ruining their future. They stay with me for a while and then return to their parents.” – Babu Bajrangi, Frontline, Dec 16-29 2006

Bajrangi is the VHP leader who gained notoriety recently for being the unofficial censor for the film Parzania in Ahmedabad. Less known in the fact that he boasts of having ‘rescued’ (kidnapped) no less than 918 women from his Kadwa Patel community who eloped to marry men outside the community – 70% of whom were Muslim or Christian men, and the rest were from other sub-castes.

The Gujarat genocide was marked by the rape of Muslim women and mutilation of their bodies by the Sangh Parivar. Such rapes were celebrated as acts of nationalism. Bajrangi’s acts of ‘rescue’ of Hindu women from marriages with ‘other’ men are also projected as acts of nationalism. The borders of caste and (religious) community need to be policed for infiltration from the enemy with as much vigilant surveillance as the borders of the nation. In fact, the border of each community (and family within it) is the border of nation in microcosm. The difference is that the borders of the family and community are lined with explosive from within. They are forever vulnerable because the sexuality of their own daughters has the potential to explode those boundaries and call into question the very foundation of racial purity on which the cultural nationalism of the Hindu Rashtra rests.

There are many who hold Hindutva’s violent codes to be a kind of Talibanic aberration and appeal to Hindus to distinguish it from the essentially liberal soul of Hinduism. See for instance Sitaram Yechury’s piece written in the wake of the Babri Masjid demolition, titled Pseudo-Hinduism Exposed: The Reality of the Saffron Brigade’s Myths. This piece explicitly contrasts liberal Hinduism to the impostor – ‘pseudo-Hinduism’ or Hindutva. Typically, this piece attributes India’s democracy to the choice in favour of secular democracy made by its Hindu majority and contrasts it with intolerant Islamic theocracies (implying that those theocracies are attributable to the choice made by intolerant Islamic majority?). As an extension of this thesis, Yechury observes, “The rabid intolerance of other religions (in Islamic theocracies) is matched by ruthlessly suppressive laws that deny elementary democratic rights especially to women.” The implication is that India in contrast assures those democratic rights to its women.

But it would be a mistake to imagine that this aspect of Hindutva – Bajrangi’s brand of violent policing of women, or the Bajrang Dal’s threat issued a few years back, that Hindu women who married Muslims would have their noses cut off, or its periodic threats against women wearing jeans or couples celebrating Valentine’s Day – marks a rupture with a gentler and more benign Hinduism. Communal fascism of the Hindutva variety draws sustenance from the widely prevailing anxiety of Hindu caste communities about breaching of patriarchal codes, caste and community boundaries – and the resultant threat to property relations and status. These anxieties are not the unique preserve of ‘backward’ rural communities; Prem Chowdhry shows us how modern phenomena like granting of legal inheritance rights to women and the social consequences of urbanisation in Haryana intensify these anxieties and the resultant violence against those who disobey marriage codes. (‘Enforcing Cultural Codes: Gender and Violence in Northern India’, A Question of Silence: The Sexual Economies of Modern India, ed. Mary John and Janaki Nair, 1998)

Uma Chakravarti has remarked how brahminical patriarchy has for long regarded women of upper castes as ‘gateways’ or points of breach into the caste system – requiring careful surveillance to preserve upper caste purity – and this “obsessive concern with policing female sexuality” has become a stubborn feature across caste groups (Uma Chakravarti, Gendering Caste: Through a Feminist Lens, 2003, pp 35-36). She notes that there is “widespread ‘consent’, in the sense that Gramsci outlines it, within civil society to regard choice, particularly when articulated by a woman as disruptive of the whole social order…and ‘with free choice of partners involving women, the whole social fabric seems to suffer a terrible tear’.” (Chakravarti, pp152-53) It is the existence of such consent for obsessive control of women’s sexual choice, such widespread fear of a ‘terrible’ tear inflicted by women’s free choice, that sustains and ‘naturalises’ Bajrangi’s mass abduction spree as a patriotic act. Bajrangi’s mass abductions are able to masquerade as a grotesque version of a more common ideology and practice of ‘guardianship’ (brother as guardian of sister’s honour) celebrated by popular cinema and serials and normalised by the festival of Raksha Bandhan. Adult women are legally beyond the scope and control of ‘guardianship’. Yet the ideology of guardianship (closely tied up with control of female sexuality, reproduction and labour) and its twin, the ideology that makes women the repositories of izzat or honour of the community/nation is perpetuated. The ‘honour’ killings decreed by caste panchayats for lovers who transgress codes of caste and community and Bajrangi’s abductions thus breathe the same ideological oxygen.

This leads us to ask: can Left movements and women’s movements challenge communal fascist violence against women without also challenging the ideology of guardianship and izzat? In the case of agrarian labour communities, usually dalit or extremely backward, there is tremendous resistance to the sexual exploitation of women by upper caste men, and Chakravarti notes that the “issue of izzat is central to peasant movements in Bihar under various Marxist-Leninist formations and in dalit movements” (Chakravarti, p 169). While resistance to sexual violence will continue to be a powerful mobilisational issue, these movements need to be alert to the dangers of the connotations and implications of izzat. These movements must guard against bearing the baggage of resentment against the upper caste taunts that lower caste women have no izzat to begin with or that lower caste men are ‘unable’ to ‘protect’ ‘their’ women. In other words, such radical political mobilisation must assert the autonomy and freedom of women who are dalit agrarian labourers – and must guard against framing the struggle in terms of asserting the ‘ability’ of lower caste men to ‘protect’ the ‘izzat’ of women and of their community. This means asserting the sexual freedom and autonomy of women within the community as much as against the oppressor without.

We need to recognise the links between Babu Bajrangi’s assaults on women’s freedom, and those structures and practices that we tend to take as normative, natural and acceptable – such as the practice of arranging marriages within one’s caste and community, disapproving of independent relationships forged by one’s sisters or daughters, holding oneself to be the ‘guardian’ of one’s sisters or daughters, and so on. Often, as long as overt coercion or violence is not involved, we tend to view anxiety about controlling sexual behaviour of daughters, as quite natural. Women’s movements and Left movements must confront and challenge the ideology of guardianship and izzat even where overt coercion is not flaunted – as part of their struggle against the structures of class and caste, and against communal fascism.

By Kavita Krishnan, 12 April, 2007, Countercurrents.org